My daughter texted me images of a greeting card of the Upper West Side I sent her in October, 1990, when she was in college in Massachusetts. She didn’t include the message scrawled inside. Likely, it offered upbeat advice about eating healthy, studying hard and having fun. In those days I tried not to nag.
Today, she’s a high school psychologist, consulting with school staff and parents and counseling teenagers, now at a distance. And, she’s checking in with me and offering her own advice in this time of COVID-19 crisis. “Don’t go out.”
She forwarded me an email with the following advice:
“IMPORTANT COVID-19 INFO. EVERY HOUSEHOLD SHOULD DO THIS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE:Write up a medical history and medication list for every member of your family and make sure it’s handy – even for healthy family members. Area hospitals and EMS are not allowing ANYONE (with extremely limited exceptions) to accompany a patient to the hospital. If you or a loved one has to go to the hospital for ANY reason, you don’t want EMS, doctors or nurses missing key information. Most of us have plenty of time on our hands right now. So, no excuses! Do it today. Stay healthy and share this with family and friends.”
We discuss crisis plans that are pretty straight forward: call the doctor, follow advice, go to the hospital if the physician advises. I have to fight my inclination to travel to wherever my children are to assist if needed. But, I know very well that could make matters worse. I could be spreading the virus from NYC.
In the midst of this, we exchange recommendations about what to make for dinner. I suggest adding frozen fish to shopping lists.
Through the door of my apartment, I can hear my next door neighbor talking to her 6-year old twins. She takes them out briefly for fresh air every morning. “Don’t touch anything. Don’t touch the walls. Go immediately and wash your hands.” It’s not so easy with adult children.
Everywhere, parents and adult children are having these conversations. Some have encouraged their parents to travel to and stay at remote, even isolated weekend homes.
But, most of the people I know would rather remain in place in their NYC apartments, communicate virtually, and look out at deserted streets. Somehow it feels like a community.